Protecting the safety of teen workers in California

For many teenagers in California, getting an after-school job is an important part of growing up. Whether it’s to save money for college or a car, or just to help contribute to the family budget, part-time work can be a wonderful and beneficial life experience.

With that said, it is important to note that many typical teen jobs come with a certain risk of injury. Although many people picture things like heavy machinery or hazardous chemicals when they think of work accidents, it is just as likely that a job injury might arise from more everyday hazards like falling, carrying heavy items or repetitive stress.

It is important for teens to take time to educate themselves about how to stay safe on the job. In addition, teens should learn about their rights under California’s workers’ compensation law, so they know how to protect themselves if they do get injured at work.

Safety tips for teen workers

In many respects, teens are at greater risk of injury simply because they are new to the world of work. This inexperience often means that teens haven’t developed the safety instincts that older workers take for granted.

Working teens would be wise to keep the following tips in mind to stay safe on the job:

  • Ask for help: If you don’t know how to do something, or if you are concerned about your safety, ask for help from a supervisor or experienced coworker.
  • Follow the rules: Most jobs come with a lot of rules about the way things should be done. While these rules may seem burdensome at first, they are there to help you stay safe and to make sure your employer follows the law.
  • Stay rested: You’re more likely to get hurt or make a mistake at work if you are tired. Be sure to get enough sleep on nights when you have to work the next day. If you’re finding it hard to keep up with both work and schoolwork, consider cutting back on the number of hours you spend on the job.
  • Speak up: If you notice something dangerous at work, tell you supervisor right away. Many times, front-line workers are in a much better position to notice possible hazards and suggest ways to improve them.

California workers’ compensation

If you do get hurt on the job — even if it is just a minor injury — report the incident to your supervisor as soon as possible. Making this report is necessary to preserve your right to recover workers’ compensation benefits should you need them.

Nearly all workers in California are covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation will pay for reasonable medical care arising from a work-related injury or occupational disease. If you need to take time off work to get better, you may also be entitled to benefits to make up for some of your lost wages. All workplaces are required to post notices of workers’ rights. Take some time to review this information, and don’t be scared to stand up for yourself.